Maui News

Judge Panel to Hear SHAKA Appeal on Pesticides at GMO Sites

June 15, 2016, 8:35 AM HST
* Updated June 15, 8:36 AM
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More than 1,000 marchers participated in the Anti-GMO event. Pictured at center is Dustin Barca in the camouflage pants and bullhorn. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

Anti-GMO event on Maui (2014). File photo by Rodney S. Yap.

A special panel of three judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in Honolulu today on an appeal filed by The SHAKA Movement.

The hearing involves recent Federal District Court decisions that intervened to invalidate laws in three different Hawaii counties.

The laws specifically deal with the regulation of pesticides used on experimental GMO test sites in the islands.

In June 2015, Judge Susan Oki Mollway ruled that the Maui GMO Initiative passed by Maui voters in November 2014 is invalid because the county does not have the authority over the matter.  The order stated that the County of Maui GMO ordinance is preempted and exceeds the county’s authority to impose fines.

On November 4th, Maui voters approved the voter initiative to temporarily suspend the growth, testing, or cultivation of genetically engineered crops in Maui until an environmental and public health study can show that they are safe.

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Soon after proponents and opponents alike took the matter to the courts with initiative backers filing a lawsuit in Second Circuit court seeking “declaratory relief to assure transparency and the proper implementation,” of the newly passed initiative; and Monsanto executives filing a federal lawsuit seeking to delay any enforcement of the measure and ultimately to have it declared unenforceable.

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Supporters of the appeal say the laws were implemented to provide citizens with basic civil rights of a safe environment and that laws created to protect people are being used to protect corporations instead.

Today, a ceremony is planned outside the federal courthouse in which some of the comments and names from petition signers will be read.

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